Ballantine, Aug 2002, 19.95, 384 pp.
In 1866, Sara Collier Talbot returns to the Kentucky home of her deceased spouse looking for shelter for her and her little girl, born out of wedlock to a northerner. After her own father recently beat her and rejected her and his granddaughter, further dismissal would not shock Sara. Instead her sister-in-law Louzanna welcomes the fallen woman and her niece “Lissybeth” to live with her.
The next day, Sara's spouse Dr. Dru Talbot comes home after serving time in a northern prison and recovering from amnesia. He is stunned to learn that his beloved, the only reason he survived the war, had cuckolded him with another woman. He cannot even look at her lovechild without ire. As Sara tries to atone for her transgression and regain what she once had before the war, an epidemic threatens to destroy the town.
MAGNOLIA CREEK is an exciting Reconstruction Era romance that is more of a historical character study of the aftermath of the deadly American Civil War. The story line uses coincidence (or as Louzanna felt divine intervention) to move forward the plot yet engages the audience through the trials and tribulations of the lead characters and the secondary cast that does not always end in happily. Fans will understand the dreary pessimism of the locals as Jill Marie Landis makes the audience feel the pain from the loss of loved ones and the suffering from economic ruin.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner